The Serrated Knife

Ideal for foods hard on the outside, chewy on the inside.
Marge Perry

Serrated knives, with their scalloped, toothlike edge, are ideal for cutting through foods with a hard exterior and softer interior, such as a loaf of crusty bread. The principle behind a serrated knife is similar to that of a saw: The teeth of the blade catch and then rip as the knife smoothly slides through the food. It cuts cleanly through the resistant skin and juicy flesh of a ripe tomato without crushing it. Crusty bread is easier and neater to cut using a serrated knife because the crust will splinter less.

Three More Tasks for a Serrated Knife

Slice whole citrus fruits: Because citrus skin is tough and slick, the serrated blade is best for this task.

Cut baked phyllo dough: The blade gently saws through the delicate pastry so it crumbles less.

Slice a layer cake: A serrated knife is thinner and more delicate than a chef's knife and cuts cleanly through tender, moist cakes.

Owner's Manual

Cleaning: While many manufacturers claim their knives can go in the dishwasher, you should always wash knives by hand. Washing in the dishwasher can dull the blade. Use a soft sponge and warm, soapy water to maximize the life and performance of your knife. And avoid soaking knives in water; prolonged immersion can loosen the handles.

Storing: Keep your knives in a knife block, on a magnetic strip designed to hold knives that's mounted somewhere safe, or in a special drawer insert that has slots for the blades. Never store them loose in a drawer―the free movement could result in nicked or dulled blades, as well as nicked hands when you reach in to pull them out.